Chronic pain or persistent pain is pain that lasts for longer than three months. There are many causes of chronic pain, and the choice of treatment depends upon type, severity, location, and impact on your current lifestyle.
Chronic pain is a severely debilitating and complex condition that affects multiple areas of a person’s life.
- Physical functioning
- Ability to perform activities of daily living
- Sleep disturbances
- Healthcare costs
- Lost workdays.
Psychological Approaches to Chronic Pain
Psychological approaches to pain are an important and accepted part of the holistic pain management model. Research has shown that psychological approaches such as Cognitive-Behaviour Therapy (CBT), mindfulness and hypnosis can be important components in improving pain management.
Cognitive-Behaviour Therapy (CBT) for Chronic Pain
Research shows that CBT therapy, or Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, can effectively reduce the psychological distress associated with long-term pain. Through the use of skills such as relaxation, distraction, pacing, and problem-solving, people can reduce the pain experience, improve social function and generally cope better with chronic pain.
Furthermore, research has shown that having realistic, helpful thoughts is important to chronic pain management. Negative, unhelpful, unrealistic thoughts can lead to increased perception of pain, anxiety, anger and depression, social withdrawal, under-activity, overreliance on pain medications and poor sleep. During CBT therapy, clients are taught how to develop a more realistic and helpful way of thinking.
Mindfulness for Chronic Pain
Mindfulness involves deliberately and non-judgmentally paying attention to everything and using all the senses while being in the present moment.
Mindfulness is about teaching clients how to separate their emotions, thoughts and mood from the pain sensation. In a mindful approach, you are taught to notice when you are preoccupied with thoughts about the future or the past, recognise whether these are helpful or not, and develop the ability to free yourself from them.
Hypnosis for Chronic Pain
Hypnosis is a well-established mind-body approach used in chronic pain treatment. The basic premise of hypnosis is to change how clients perceive pain messages to reduce the intensity of what they are feeling.
During hypnosis, a client gets into a pleasant and comfortable state of hypnosis relaxation. Then the psychologist focuses on re-programming the client’s negative beliefs and feelings about chronic pain. Next, clients are taught to use creative imagination to get comfortable and out of pain, distract and distance themselves from it, alter and transform the sensations, and reduce stress, tension and discomfort.
Furthermore, clients are taught self-hypnosis and provided with tape recordings of hypnosis sessions that can be used to reduce pain daily outside the sessions.
Pain should never leave you feeling powerless. Chronic pain is treatable. Speak to your GP, Psychologist or other mental health professional if you need help.